June 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Rachel Hawkins on Royal Weddings, #SexyHistory, and More

Photo by John Hawkins

What inspired you to write Royals (Putnam; May 1, 2018)?
Like a lot of people, I got up very early back in 2011 to watch Will and Kate’s wedding live (I made scones and everything!), and I then obsessively followed the sort of post-wedding coverage, and was really struck by how crazy people were going over Pippa. I had this thought of, “Man, what would that be like when you’re famous, but not because of anything you’ve done, just because your sibling married into royalty?” And so the first seed for Royals was planted. Thanks, Pippa!

The relationship dynamics in this book really stand out—from Daisy and Ellie’s prickly sisterhood and Miles’s and Seb’s bond to Daisy’s intense loyalty to Isabel. How did you inject such nuance to each of these relationships?
One of the things I always work hard at in my books is having those “grounding” details. I tend to write very off-the-wall, larger-than-life stories, so I always feel like having relationships and characters that feel like real people keeps the books from going too big. So it’s definitely something I paid attention to [when] writing Royals, making sure everyone had these moments of connection. I’m also very lucky in that I’ve been working with the same editor, Arianne Lewin, for years now, and she’s very good about helping me find those moments where I can dig a little bit deeper on the personal relationships.

The details about the food, fashion, weather, and Scottish/royal traditions and customs were fun to read about. What kind of research did you do for these aspects of the story?
I did a lot of research, and all of it was both fun and completely crazy-pants. The biggest thing I did was subscribe to Tatler magazine for a year, and read it pretty religiously. If you’ve never picked up an issue of Tatler, I highly recommend it because it is both bizarre and amazing! I also read several books about how the current royal family in Britain operates, plus a great book called The Season that was all about the social season in the UK, so horse races, shooting parties, all of that. I’ve also been to Scotland several times over the past few years, so getting to actually walk around some of the places I was talking about in the book definitely helped.

Your #SexyHistory Twitter threads about royals are amazing and hilarious! Where do you dig up these little-known tidbits of salacious history?
My brain cannot do math, but it can hold on to basically any Juicy Gossip it finds, and there’s nothing juicer than royal families, both past and present. I’ve always really, really loved history (to the point where when I was around nine, I would make a headdress for myself out of a kitchen towel and a headband and pretend to be Anne Boleyn), and collecting these fun and outrageous stories has always been a hobby of mine. I did the first #SexyHistory as kind of a lark, just expecting it to be a one-off thing, so I was delighted that people actually enjoyed my history silliness!

This book publishes right in time for Prince Harry’s wedding to U.S. actress Meghan Markle. Any special plans?
Oh, I will for sure be getting up early again, and probably live-tweeting the entire thing. Wearing a fascinator, of course!

What are you working on next? Hopefully, another “Royals” book….?
I am working on the next “Royals” book! It’s due out in 2019, and will follow a character readers met in Royals plus another American girl who finds herself over her head with the Scottish royal family. There’s a scary boarding school, a pub brawl, and more tiaras/kissing/tabloid scandals.

 

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Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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